Burundi-Rwanda Tensions Escalate Following RED Tabara Attack

On 25 February 2024, the armed group Red Tabara launched a deadly attack in Buringa, located in the Gihanga Commune of Bubanza Province, western Burundi. This incident has reignited longstanding tensions between Burundi and Rwanda, with Burundi accusing Rwanda of supporting the attackers.

The Burundian government reported nine fatalities, including six women and one soldier, with five others wounded. Red Tabara claimed responsibility for the assault, stating it targeted two military outposts and resulted in the death of six soldiers and the destruction of a CNDD-FDD party headquarters. This claim was substantiated by images posted online by the group, showing military attire and weaponry allegedly seized during the attack.

The government also disclosed the burning of two vehicles and a motorcycle, one of which was carrying a body to the morgue, indicating the attackers’ disregard for civilian life. This attack follows a pattern of violence, recalling a December 2023 assault by Red Tabara, which the Burundian government stated resulted in 20 deaths, a figure contested by the group.

In response to the recent violence, the Burundian government condemned Rwanda for allegedly providing support to Red Tabara, describing it as a terrorist organization causing widespread suffering in Burundi. The government demanded the extradition of the group’s leaders from Rwanda for prosecution.

Red Tabara, through its spokesperson Patrick Nahimana, denied any support from Rwanda, asserting their independence and highlighting their longstanding presence in the region, including in the Congo. Nahimana emphasized that their military actions do not target civilians, contrary to the government’s claims.

The ongoing conflict between Red Tabara and the Burundian government has severely affected relations with Rwanda, leading to the closure of borders earlier this year. Rwanda, however, denies any involvement with Red Tabara.

Following the attack, Red Tabara announced their intention to intensify their operations against what they describe as the CNDD-FDD’s terror tactics. They called for the Burundian government to engage in inclusive negotiations to achieve lasting peace. The group’s commitment to continuing their assaults until their demands are met poses a significant challenge to regional stability and the safety of civilians in the affected areas.